Secret meeting to bring Val Holmes back to NRL
Start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today …
A top-secret dinner meeting in New York on Tuesday night could determine whether former Cronulla and Australian star Val Holmes quits the NFL for a dramatic return to rugby league from the start of next season.
The Daily Telegraph can exclusively reveal North Queensland coach Paul Green is in the Big Apple for a private dinner with Holmes to discuss luring the former NRL champion back home.
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Internally, North Queensland are confident they can finally nab their man.
Holmes, 24, has agreed to play with the Cowboys once his NFL dream has finished. Green desperately hopes that will be next season.
Green has been in Boston for a week-long professional development course at Harvard University, which is funded by the Cowboys.
This is the third and final year he will do the course, which costs around $20,000.
Green left Boston on Monday for the short journey south to New York, where he will meet Holmes.
While the meeting has been kept private, Holmes' manager Chris Orr is aware of it.
North Queensland have kept cash in their salary cap for the possible arrival of Holmes.
However, the former Queensland Origin player is still believed to want to pursue his NFL career and spurn North Queensland's interest.
It is understood Green and Holmes will talk in-depth about his chances of reigniting his rugby league career in Townsville.
Holmes' wife Natalia recently wrote on social media that she was looking forward to heading back home next week, but she posted again on Monday - with an accompanying photo of her and Holmes and New York in the background - "New York City, you feel like home!"
While Val and Natalia live together in neighbouring New Jersey, friends claim they are homesick.
One well-placed source said: "The Cowboys will be trying to get Val home. It's not all glamorous over there on the practice squad. He is having some down times.
"North Queensland have room in their cap, they have money there. But Val is a pretty determined bloke. It will be interesting to see how it pans out."
Holmes knows he can earn close to $1 million a season in rugby league, a massive amount compared to his modest $181,500 annual Jets practice squad contract.
The Sharks' 2016 grand final-winning winger continues to train with the New York Jets practice squad but is ineligible to be elevated into the NFL franchise's top squad this season.
It means Holmes would have to train for another 10 months before knowing whether he has made the Jets' top-flight 53-man roster for the 2020-21 season.
North Queensland have plans to shift Scott Drinkwater into five-eighth should Holmes return to play fullback. The Cowboys had real issues at five-eighth last season.
Green has been in the US for two weeks and will fly to Townsville on Wednesday.
He will start next season under some pressure given his club's failure to reach the finals in the past two years and only finishing a modest eighth in 2017.
North Queensland have a host of emerging rookies but need a player of Holmes' ability to take the club to a new level of excellence.
Holmes still has family and friends in north Queensland.
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold completed a similar four-day professional development course at Harvard in 2017.